This paper explores the ways in which 14th-century Venetian Marino Sanudo Torsello’s letters show that letter-writers used couriers to convey information outside of the contents of letters themselves. The courier system created a three-way relationship that has conventionally been treated as two-way communication between writer and recipient, with courier as passive non-player. I argue that the courier was in fact an active element of medieval communication, and they performed functions outside of transporting letters: they fostered new relationships and ties, conveyed the secrecy or importance of information within the letters, and provided authenticity and authority to information through their personal experience and knowledge unavailable to writer and recipient.
Secular sanction clauses occur widely in early medieval charters from the north west of the Iberian Peninsula, but little attention has been paid to them so far. This paper seeks to demonstrate that, beyond their diplomatic dimension, secular sanction clauses in the Iberian charters reflect wider social practices. Ultimately, it will argue that the use of sanctions in the regulation of social relationships in north western Iberia was more important than has normally been acknowledged. The Irish laws will be taken as a comparative reference, for they provide extensive information about the role of sanctions in an early medieval society.
This paper will examine the personal faith and social and religious impetus behind the creation of Marino Sanudo’s early 14th- century crusade proposal, the Liber Secretorum Fidelium Crucis, (Secreta). Letters, attached to a number of these manuscripts, attest to Sanudo’s long-term devotion to a crusade but the plans laid out in the Secreta reveal a number of competing social, economic, and political forces influencing his reasoning. Sanudo’s Secreta is recognized as a valuable source of knowledge on crusade activity but it can also provide evidence of pragmatic influences behind an endeavour ostensibly driven by faith.